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A Christmas Secret Paperback – Oct 4 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Headline Book Publishing (Oct. 4 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755334299
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755334292
  • Product Dimensions: 11.8 x 1 x 17.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 82 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,066,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa2f02f0c) out of 5 stars 33 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0f7e5d0) out of 5 stars a very good read Nov. 15 2006
By tregatt - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I've become quite fond of Anne Perry's Christmas novellas in spite of the fact that they're not always as compelling or as thought provoking as her Pitt or her Monk series. True, they are extremely well written (or at least I find them to be so), and possess many of the quality traits that you'd find in her other novels -- good period detail, thoughtful storylines and good character developments. And indeed I thought that her previous Christmas novella, "A Christmas Guest" was really quite stella and the best of the lot so far. So that while I still think that "A Christmas Guest" is the best Christmas novella Anne Perry has written to date, I did think that "A Christmas Secret" was a very engaging and satisfying read. It may not be the most suspenseful or most intriguing read of the month, but I enjoyed it nevertheless and can definitely recommend as a good read.

"A Christmas Secret" features Daniel Corde, Charlotte Pitt's brother-in-law, who has turned his back on his life of wealth and privilege, and who has taken orders, and his new wife, Clarice, as chief protagonists. Anne Perry fans may remember Daniel as the self-indulgent husband of Charlotte's eldest sister, who was brutally murdered in the first Thomas and Charlotte Pitt mystery, "The Cater Street Hangman." In "A Christmas Secret" Daniel is given the opportunity to escape the petty and critical gaze of his superior and to stand in for the vicar of the village of Cottisham, the Reverend Wynter, over the Christmas season. Knowing that his has enormous shoes to fill (Wynter is much beloved and revered by his parishioners), Daniel is, nevertheless, determined to do his best and to make as good an impression as possible. But when Daniel's clever wife, Clarice, makes a shocking discovery in the cellar, she and Daniel are confronted with the choice between doing the right and moral thing, and doing the prudent and safe thing. Suddenly the village of Cottisham is not as idyllic or as safe as it seems. However, Daniel and Clarice are determined to do the right thing, no matter the cost to themselves...

The mystery is not a very complex one; however, quite truthfully speaking, I don't really read Anne Perry's Christmas novellas for their depth and complexity of plot. I read them because they are so very engaging; because she uses minor characters from her series and gives new depths and dimensions to these characters, making them more accessible and understandable; and because of her good understanding of human foibles, frailties and nobility. "A Christmas Secret" may not exceed "A Christmas Guest" in excellence, but it was a wonderfully satisfying read nevertheless.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa39cf024) out of 5 stars another gift from Anne Perry Nov. 10 2006
By ellen - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anne Perry writes a Christmas story each year - this offering features a young couple, Rev. Dominic and Clarice Corde who arrive at a village for Dominic to substitute for a cleric who has left abruptly. They are a loving couple want to do their best for each other, and do the best they can for their parish. When the 'vacationing' reverend is found dead in the cellar of the house, Clarice and Dominic set themselves to find out who murdered the rev.. It is a good whodunit, with the shades of the Victorian Era life. These Perry books feature members from the Monk and Pitt series - such as Lady Vespasia, Charlotte Pitt's mother, Henry Rathbone - now the Cordes (Daniel was Charlotte's brother-in-law whose wife (Charlotte's sister) was murdered in the first of the Pitt series, Cater Street Hangman. Pitt solved this murder.)
I read this book in one sitting. I am a fan of Perry's. and think this book will be enjoyed by all -
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa39ce48c) out of 5 stars Christmas Murder..... April 7 2007
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I had not read any of Anne Perry's Christmas novels before this one, but I'm glad I chose this one to begin the series. True this novel is not long or complicated, but it is still very well written and has the usual Perry deft touch of period details, Victorian atmosphere, and character development. "A Christmas Secret" features Dominic Corde and his new wife, Clarice, as chief protagonists. Faithful Perry readers may remember Dominic from the first Perry novel, "The Crater Street Hangman." Dominic, Charlotte Pitt's former brother in law, has turned his back on wealth and priviledge and is now a Church of England Vicar. In "A Christmas Secret" Dominic is asked to substitute for the Vicar of Cottisham. The Reverend Wynter, much loved by his parishoners in the small village, has gone on vacation during the Christmas season. Dominic is determined to do his best for the parish and is struggling with his confidence in this new situation. While he is out getting visiting and getting to know his new parishoners, Clarice makes a shocking and horrifying discovery in the cellar.

Suddenly, Clarice and Dominic find that the village of Cottisham is not the nice quiet little village they thought it was. Dominic and Clarice, although horrified by the discovery, are determined to get to the bottom of the mystery and to uncover any dark secrets that led to the crime. The mystery is not difficult to solve, but Perry uses past characters from her books to give new depth and dimension to them. It's like meeting old friends again after a long absence. "A Christmas Secret" was a lovely Christmas gift to read for the holidays. A really nice touch in the novel comes at the end of the book, when Dominic Corde's gives his holiday sermon. He says, "The greatest Christmas gift is Hope, {which is} a way back from every mistake we have made, no matter how small or how large, how ugly or how incredibly stupid, or how shameful."
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa256ef60) out of 5 stars A wonderful and heartfelt holiday novel Dec 8 2006
By Bookreporter - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Anne Perry, well known and loved as a mystery writer, has given readers a wonderful holiday tonic with A CHRISTMAS SECRET. In her new book, she brings back two secondary characters from her Thomas and Charlotte Pitt novels, and gives them their own story. The Reverend Dominic Corde and his wife Clarice appeared earlier in THE CATER STREET HANGMAN and BRUNSWICK GARDENS. Even if you have never met them before, you will still love them --- and their story.

Dominic and Clarice, who have been married for little more than a year, are traveling to Oxfordshire. Dominic has been asked by the bishop to take over for the elderly vicar, Reverend Wynter, who has gone on a holiday. He and his wife leave the industrial landscape of London and Dominic's current job as curate for a three-week reprieve. The train travels through gentle rolling country sides and past hilltops dusted with snow and delivers them at the station, where a pony trap waits to take them to the hamlet of Cottisham.

The village is picturesque with thatched dwellings and a wide green with a duck pond. The church is Saxon with a slate roof and a square tower that rises against the winter sky. Readers feel as if they are in a late 19th century setting trimmed with snow. The stone vicarage has a feeling of warmth even though Mrs. Wellbeloved, who has looked after the vicar for years, greets them with a dubious look. She shows them the house and informs Dominic and Clarice about the dog and cat to tend as well.

Soon after the couple makes themselves at home, they receive their first caller. Sir Peter Connaught is the local squire; he welcomes them and is relieved to learn that the couple had not met the Rev. Wynter. When Mrs. Wellbeloved comes to help later, she tells Clarice that Sir Peter and the vicar quarreled. Clarice hears what high esteem villagers have for Rev. Wynter and how much he deserved a holiday to paint, a hobby he loves.

Dominic calls on Mrs. Wellbeloved to ask her advice about whom he should visit, and she tells him to be sure to call on the vicar's former right-hand man, John Boscombe. When Boscombe has the same reaction as Sir Peter when Dominic discloses that he had not met the elderly vicar, Dominic is curious. John will not speak of why he is no longer with the vicar, but he does provide helpful information to Dominic about the history of the village and its people. Dominic and Clarice share their experiences of the village with each other. Dominic hopes to give a good sermon, help those in need and be received with grace during the Christmas season. Clarice wishes they could stay longer.

As she settles into the vicarage, Clarice discovers Rev. Wynter's winter clothes and his paints and brushes. One morning, Clarice awakens to find the world white with snow. Knowing that Dominic will need to be up and out to call on villagers in need, she takes the coal bucket and heads to the cellar --- with the cat and the dog not far behind. When Clarice soon realizes that the pets have wandered off, she sets out to look for them. Her search leads her to a second cellar where she discovers the Rev. Wynter's body. There are wounds that are hard to explain as a heart attack or fall, so Clarice suspects murder. Dr. Fitzpatrick, who comes to examine the body, is skeptical, but Clarice and Dominic investigate the murder anyway by talking with the parishioners.

As their investigation unfolds, secrets that are harbored by some of the villagers endanger the lives of Dominic and Clarice. Eventually, the murderer is uncovered. Dominic delivers a sermon on Christmas Day attended by everyone in Cottisham that speaks of hope, even though mistakes have been made. Dominic declares, "That is what Christmas is: everlasting hope, a way forward to the best in ourselves and all that we can become."

There is nothing better than having one of your favorite writers pen a story that includes the holidays as a setting. As this year draws to a close, put up your feet, get your favorite drink and holiday treat, and starting reading. A CHRISTMAS SECRET will create a spirit of the season that lasts long after you have finished and will leave you with a heartfelt message for your own holiday season.

--- Reviewed by Jennifer McCord
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa724b450) out of 5 stars A lovely story Jan. 11 2007
By L. J. Roberts - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Dominic Corde, brother-in-law to Charlotte Pitt, has left banking, is married to Clarice and is a cleric in a church in London. However, Dominic and Clarice have sent to a small town to fill in for a much-beloved vicar during his Christmas holiday. They soon discover the vicar did not leave town after all.

Perry's Christmas novellas are wonderful little gifts. I love that she takes the secondary characters from her main series and gives them a platform and personalities of their own and then creating distinctive supporting characters, each with their own weaknesses and foibles, around them. Perry is unsurpassed in taking her readers into the time and place of the story. As a mystery, it is light, but that doesn't matter to me. What I most admire is that, while it is a Christmas story and deals with all the basic themes of love, charity, forgiveness, hope and honor. I never felt preached to, but felt instead the possibilities and strength of the human spirit.

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